The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons new report summarizes the evidence about the use of hyaluronic acid injections (“Synvisc”) into arthritic knees. Despite the growing popularity of the procedure, the bottom line is that they haven’t been shown to be effective. The Academy strongly recommends that they not be used.
That doesn’t leave many options for someone with symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knees.
Three other treatments have also failed to pan out:
The use of arthroscopic surgery to clean up an arthritic knee has already been debunked. Acupuncture doesn’t fare too well either. And despite a burst in popularity a few years back, glucosamine supplements (with or without chondroitin) haven’t been shown to help, either.
I do two main things to help people with arthritic knees.
- I use specialized methods of connective tissue treatment (primarily NeuroTactile® Therapy) to make sure that the soft tissue around the knee joint is as balanced as possible.
- I train people in proper use of the knee and knee-strengthening exercises that actually reduce joint stress. The most important exercise for the knee is the simple plié. That’s an exercise from ballet in which you simply bend and straighten your knees, hips, and ankle joints in synchrony. It’s simple, but the details are important. That’s why a session or two of therapeutic exercise instruction is vital.
In truth, the methods I use have not been tested by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, and careful research may ultimately add them to the list of modalities to be thrown in the junk pile.
But in the meantime they have four main things to recommend them
- They rely on restoring (as much as possible) the knee’s intrinsic ability to function
- They’re safe, with virtually zero negative side-effects
- They’re inexpensive
- I’ve gotten robust results with many of the patients who have committed to a consistent treatment program